Raising the bar

We used to go to the Log every day,” an alumnus, Class of 1981, told me. “Everyone would go, so when you were done with homework, you’d saunter down to see everybody.” Well, that sounds almost like a collegiate social life, something I wish to take part in someday.

The absence of the Log in the Williams social scene is criminal. It is one of the most beautiful and well-equipped student spaces on campus, but it is rarely used. There are a few stories circulating on campus that explain why the administration has tightened its grip on the space in the last decade – the most common involving a wet T-shirt contest that got a little out of control. Although I’m not necessarily condoning these types of contests on College-owned property, the Log should be allowed to be used for its original purpose: a campus bar.

It doesn’t take much to see that the Williams social life needs to be jump-started. Themed parties and cluster events are great for underclassmen, but everyone grows tired of dressing up in cereal boxes eventually. And even if we still enjoy it, as a senior it’s nice to have the option of going to a bar afterwards and acting grown up. And let’s face it, the Herring is terrible. Maybe if you’re 45 and you have some time to kill before going to see Juno it would suffice for a glass of wine. And the ’82 Bar and Grille is no bar; in fact, it’s not even really a grill (although it does have great pizza). This Paresky basement is referred to as “the new Log” by the administration since the Log’s old liquor license now is in effect only for the Grill. I think many students would be shocked to know that amongst the always-empty art galleries and burnt-down coffee shops on Spring Street, there lies the space for a fantastic bar. The Log is huge, filled with character and owned by the College. Legend has it that it won best college bar several times in the ’90s but now is banned from hosting any sort of alcohol-involved activity.

What’s most frustrating is that to turn the social life around would be easy – if the administration were willing to let us have some fun. Upon learning from Campus Life that the Log is still owned by the College and only used for global warming discussions, I wanted to share my concern that having such a space be always empty is a complete waste. They agreed with me wholeheartedly, and said it has been an issue they have brought up with the administration repeatedly but to no avail. They said they had been ignored, and thought if a student brought up the issue it would go further. Dining Services seemed to do their best to ignore me, so I met with the deans. Despite persistent efforts to get the administration to allow us this right, they keep shelling out the same responses: a) they don’t feel like spending money, and b) students will be too loud. While the administration’s economic concern is understandable, a member of the Board of Trustees has assured me that nostalgic alumni would be more than happy to provide the necessary funds.

The administration’s concern about student noise is also unfounded. One Board member has told me that he was concerned about the lack of social outlets on campus, a deficiency which leads to students participating in “shot-culture” – getting dangerously drunk in the dorm before going out. And about volume, Log events would dwindle crowds of students meandering around the more residential Hoxsey Street, trying to find something to do.

Because the idea of creating a full-time bar was rejected, I proposed putting the Log on the Goodrich system, which would allow students to book the space for events and supply their own alcohol through various organizations. The administration wouldn’t allow that either, returning to the same excuses. After e-mailing President Schapiro, he told me to pursue “more viable options.” Like what? Beneath the dust and cobwebs, we have an ideal campus space staring us in the face, and the only obstacle to using it is lack of permission from the administration!

Pearson Jenks ’09 is an English major from Sherborn, Mass.